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Plant trees intelligently to get maximum benefit

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By S Paul

We are again in the season for planting trees. ‘Harela’ we call it in this part of nation. Many photos and news of individuals, groups, school children and, not the least, politicians would be exhibited by an equally enthusiastic media. The forest department and many nurseries would have reared tree saplings for this occasion. But please be cautioned – let us do it with much planning. Because, in order to tame nature to our benefit, we have gone and upset its balance in many ways – causing extinction of many species, increasing carbon and other toxic gases, causing green house syndrome, over drawing potable water from underground aquifers, clearing forests for agriculture and human habitats, etc. This has resulted in nature trying to readjust by earthquakes, floods droughts, raising temperatures, devastating storms and animals ransacking human habitats and much more.
Now that the season is being heralded with much ado by governments, NGOs and media, we must ponder over and control our enthusiasm lest we go and overdo it again and ‘annoy the God of Nature’.
I have some suggestions from my experience and knowledge that I am giving below. But also please involve our experts from the forest departments, arboriculturists, horticulturists and landscapists in your tree planting ‘abhiyan’.
1. Do not plant tall trees in isolation where storms occur frequently. In a close grove growth they support each other.
2. Do not plant tall trees in avenues or parks as they could be harmful to humans and other plants in a storm.
3. Do not plant trees that are invasive in nature. That is they project their seeds far in order to grow and choke other growths. Like Silver Oak, Flower less Bauhania, Peepal, etc.
4. Do avoid such trees the pollen of which is allergic to humans and pets. Pollen can add to the pollution of the air.
5. Avoid planting certain trees which are highly deciduous (shed leaves profusely) and cause fire hazards.
6. If planning to create a mini grove of trees let these be of almost equal heights but of different varieties and planted close.
7. Must plan a combination of shrubs and trees in a park landscape as it gives green cover vertically as well as horizontally.
8. Must not plant the same kind of trees in a single plot unless it is meant to be a plantation like that of Eucalyptus or Poplar.
9. For beauty and colour, one can make hardy creepers like Bougainville or Yellow flower Ivy or Campsis climb an established tree. Ideal is Casuarina which is highly storm resistant and its needle leaves are not inflammable like that of Pine.
10. Planting those that clean the atmosphere and give us Oxygen.
11. Please also consider not planting many fruit trees in private and public places as this attracts monkeys, langurs and bats, which can be rabies infected. Instead, with the help of forest officials, please undertake to plant many kinds of fruit trees like hard pear (Naakh), ber, guava, plum, desi mango, banana, dates, etc., within forests areas and tend them till they are able to bear fruits. We then restore the natural balance in rehabilitating these animals and restore their food chain. It may also reduce the carnivorous animals from raiding human habitats. However, for own use, many kinds of citrus fruits may be grown.
Happy Vana Mahotsava to all.